Aberthaw Power Station

Photograph by Chris Bell. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

Aberthaw Power Station refers to a series of two coal-fired power stations situated on the coast of South Wales, near Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan. Although it shares its name with the village of Aberthaw, it is actually located on the waterfront of the nearby village of Gileston. The current power station on the site, Aberthaw B Power Station, co-fires biomass and as of May 2007, its generating capacity is 1455 megawatts (MW).

History
The site of the stations was originally a golf course prior to the construction of the first station Aberthaw A Power Station opened in February 1966, and at the time was the most advanced power station in the world. Aberthaw B Power Station opened in the early 1970s. The A Station operated until 1995. It was subsequently demolished. Its two 425 feet (130 m) chimneys were the last section to be demolished, and were cleared on 25 July 1997.

Operations
The station takes its entire coal feed stock in by rail, under contract to EWS from the Vale of Glamorgan Line. Until its closure, it was in part powered by coal from the Tower Colliery in Hirwaun. Coal now comes from Cwmbargoed opencast mine in Merthyr Tydfil and other opencasts and mines. Most coal is still taken to Tower Colliery for blending, before being taken to the station by rail. There is a possibility that the site could reopen as an opencast mine.

In response to the government’s renewable energy obligation that came into effect in April 2002, the station is currently firing a range of biomass materials to replace some of the coal burned.

Flue gas desulfurization
Aberthaw B was due for closure, but in June 2005 station owners nPower agreed to install new technology to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by installing Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) equipment. This was to reduce sulphur dioxide levels by 90% by 2008, when new European environmental regulations came into place.

Construction of the equipment started on 21 June 2006, with a tree-planting ceremony attended by the Welsh Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks, Andrew Davies. The desulfurization FGD project is being carried out by a consortium of ALSTOM and AMEC, which will employ 500 workers on site at the peak of construction.

Nuclear proposal
It has been proposed that the plant could be replaced by a power station using nuclear power.